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Pablo Picasso: 1881-1973: Artist

Often Created New Paintings Daily

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso was born in Málaga, in Spain's Andalusia province, on October 25, 1881. Picasso was his mother's last name, but when Pablo Ruiz became active as an independent artist he began to experiment with many different forms of signing his name and finally dropped all traces of "Ruiz." He was the oldest child and only son of Don José Ruiz Blasco, an art teacher and the curator of the local art museum who raised pigeons on the side. Picasso learned to draw so early that he could not remember having done so, although he remembered the birth of a sister when he was three. His first word is said to have been "lápiz"—Spanish for "pencil."

Picasso's talent was nurtured by his father as the latter moved to teaching positions in Corunna and Barcelona, and after enrolling in the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona a restless Picasso exhibited some large paintings, one of which, "Science and Charity," won two awards. That positive event combined with a negative one—trauma that followed the death of his youngest sister from diphtheria—propelled Picasso toward an artistic career. At this point Picasso was a well-trained young artist with only occasional flashes of originality. Picasso studied briefly at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, and in 1900, a few days before his 19th birthday, Picasso arrived in Paris.

At a Glance . . .

Born on October 25, 1881, in Málaga, Spain; died on April 8, 1973, in Antibes, France; son of Don José Ruiz Blasco (an art teacher), and María Picasso y López; married Olga Koklova (a dancer), 1918; married Jacqueline Roque, 1961; children: (first marriage) Paulo; (with Walter) Maria; (with Gilot) Claude, Paloma. Education: Provincial Fine Arts School of La Coruna, 1892-95; Academy of Fine Arts of Barcelona, 1895-96; Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid, 1897. Politics: French Communist Party.

Career: Painter, 1900-1973; Art Jove, publisher, art editor, illustrator, 1901; Ballets Russes dance company, costume and set designer, 1917-1924; Minotaure, illustrator, 1933; playwright and poet, 1937-1970.

Selected awards: Honorable mention from Madrid exhibition of fine arts, 1897; gold medal from Malaga provincial exhibition, 1897; Carnegie Prize, 1930; honorary curator of Prado Museum in Madrid, 1936; Silver Medal of French Gratitude from France, 1948; Order of Polish Renascence commander's cross from Poland, 1948; Pennell Memorial Medal from Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, for lithograph "The Dove of Peace," 1949; Lenin Peace Prize from Soviet Union, 1950 and 1962.

There, in the city's arts-oriented Montmartre district, he soaked up the modernist trends that were sweeping the art world. The outlandishly colorful and violently mood-suffused canvases of Vincent Van Gogh impressed him, and he began to express an often bleak worldview (intensified when a close friend committed suicide) through pervasive use of the color blue. The works of what would be called Picasso's Blue Period failed to sell well at first, but Picasso found several sympathetic dealers and experienced more financial success than many other young artists. Part of his success was due to his incredible industriousness and productivity; the French art critic François Charles, according to Picasso biographer Arianna Huffington, told Picasso "for his own good no longer to do a painting a day," but Picasso maintained that breakneck speed over much of his long life.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - PersonalPablo Picasso: 1881-1973: Artist Biography - Often Created New Paintings Daily, Evolved From Blue Period To Cubism, Late Art Inspired By War And Love